Triple killer found guilty of raping pregnant woman before murdering her
Anthony Russell found guilty on Thursday of raping Nicole McGregor
A “callous and calculating” heroin user who murdered three people in six days has been convicted of raping his final victim, who was five months pregnant.
Anthony Russell had previously pleaded guilty to the murders of 58-year-old Julie Williams and her son David Williams, 32, at separate flats in Coventry on October 25 and October 21 2020 respectively.
He had also admitted the October 26 murder of 31-year-old Nicole McGregor, who was found in woodland near Leamington Spa three days later.
After a retrial at Warwick Crown Court, Russell was unanimously found guilty on Thursday of raping Ms McGregor, after just an hour and 23 minutes of deliberations by the jury.
The 39-year-old assaulted her hours after she had showed him a picture of her baby scan.
Russell had also told the expectant father, who was Ms McGregor’s partner: “I bet you can’t wait for it to be born,” in the hours after she disappeared – knowing he had raped and killed her.
The killer strangled Mr Williams with a lanyard and left the body under his bed where it was found by police five days later, covered in 87 injuries.
Afterwards, Russell claimed he had killed a man who “had had sex with his girlfriend”.
Russell strangled Mr Williams’ mother in a “violent and sustained attack” in which she was hit five times on the head and neck, prosecutors said.
She had 113 separate injuries, and is believed to have been killed because she found out Russell had murdered her son.
CCTV footage of Ms McGregor, who lived in a flat in Leamington, was played to the jury during the trial, showing her walking alongside Russell at 7.45pm on October 26.
During her opening speech, prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC said of the footage: “This is the last time Nicole is seen alive.
“Just three hours after meeting the defendant it appears that Nicole has agreed to walk with the defendant into Newbold Comyn.
“We suggest that the defendant lured Nicole on to the Comyn, not for sex but more likely for drugs.
“The defendant murdered Nicole McGregor shortly after that image was captured, just hours after they had met.”
After the murder, he pretended to help Ms McGregor’s partner look for her.
The killer was eventually the subject of a national manhunt, and fled Leamington by robbing a 78-year-old man of his car.
Russell rung the pensioner’s doorbell asking for directions, and when the victim was distracted he hit him over the head from behind with a brick, leaving him with a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.
The killer was arrested on October 30 after police spotted the stolen Ford C-Max parked on a road near Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, and found Russell on the back seat.
While being booked into custody, he told officers: “I admit it, I did it.”
Russell, of Riley Square, Coventry, will be sentenced on Friday.